Chemoembolization is the process of injecting chemotherapy drugs through a catheter into the artery that supplies blood to the tumor in your liver. This procedure also is called transcatheter arterial chemoembolization (TACE).
The liver is unique in that it has two blood supplies:
Liver tumors are supplied with blood almost exclusively from the hepatic artery.
By injecting chemotherapy drugs into the hepatic artery, then blocking it off (embolizing) with a mixture of oil and tiny particles, the tumor becomes deprived of oxygen and nutrients.
The liver continues to be supplied with blood from the portal vein.
This treatment has little or no effect on cancers in other parts of the body, but is ideal for both primary and secondary liver cancers.
The types of liver cancers that may benefit from chemoembolization, include:
Your doctor will conduct several tests before the procedure, including:
The doctor checks these test results to rule out complications that could make you a poor candidate for chemoembolization such as:
The night before your chemoembolization treatment, do not eat or drink anything.
When you arrive at the hospital, you will receive an IV line that administers antibiotics and other medications.
Then a radiologist will:
After this is complete, you will:
The most common side effects of chemoembolization are:
Some people also notice slight hair loss.
Your symptoms may vary in intensity, but commonly last a few hours to a few days. Ask your doctor about available medicines for minimizing these side effects.
Although there is a small risk of liver failure or infection, serious complications from chemoembolization are rare.
To schedule an appointment, or for more information, call the UPMC Liver Cancer Center, toll-free, at 1-855-745-4837 or complete our contact form now.